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The Real Story Behind the Classic, "I Write the Songs"
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The Real Story Behind the Classic, "I Write the Songs"

Arista Records published the Tryin' to Get the Feeling album, recorded by Barry Manilow in 1975. One song in particular on the album, "I Write the Songs," reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in January 1976. The song placed 13th for the year on Billboards in the same year. This well-recognized song was nominated Record of the Year in 1976. "I Write the Songs," claimed a Grammy Award for Song of the Year as well.

The shocker is that Barry Manilow did not in fact write the 1975-1976 hit song. This signature ditty was written by Bruce Johnston. Originally, The Captain and Tennille recorded, “I Write the Songs.” The duo recorded the song on their album, Love Will Keep Us Together. The teenage heartthrob, David Cassidy released, “I Write the Songs,” as a single and on his hit album, The Higher They Climb.

Manilow had decided not to record an outside song after “Mandy,” went to number one. Due to the creative crisis, he experienced after “Mandy,” Manilow questioned his self-esteem. He was not interested in recording the song when first approached by Clive Davis of Arista Records. The singer initially feared fans would misconstrue the lyrics of the song as a colossal ego trip. The song actually gives credit to music for writing the songs. Manilow liked the song so much that he decided to record it regardless of his fears.

Johnston was a member of the Beach Boys at the time the song was written. Gossip columns reported that the song was written about Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys. Johnston states that although Wilson is a great singer, the song was never about the Beach Boys’ lead singer. Johnston intended to write the song about God, the place where he believed all music originates.

Photo is courtesy of Barry Manilow 12 as uploaded by Blake Handley on Flickr’s Creative Commons.

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  1. Melissa Nott
    Melissa Nott
    I can see why he would worry that it might come off like an ego trip. Good thing he cast his fears aside, though!
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